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Melatonin reduces cAMP-stimulated capacitation of ram spermatozoa

Gimeno-Martos, Silvia, Casao, Adriana, Yeste, Marc, Cebrián-Pérez, José A., Muiño-Blanco, Teresa, Pérez-Pé, Rosaura
Reproduction, fertility, and development 2019 v.31 no.2 pp. 420-431
artificial insemination, chlortetracycline, cluster analysis, cyclic AMP, melatonin, phosphorylation, rams, receptors, sperm capacitation, spermatozoa, staining, tyrosine
The presence of melatonin receptors on the surface of ram spermatozoa has led to speculation about melatonin having a role in sperm functionality. The aim of this study was to elucidate the mechanism through which melatonin regulates ram sperm capacitation induced by a cocktail containing cAMP-elevating agents. Cocktail samples capacitated in the presence of 1µM melatonin showed lower percentages of capacitated spermatozoa (chlortetracycline staining; P<0.001) together with a decrease in protein tyrosine phosphorylation (P<0.01) and lower levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cAMP (P<0.05) compared with cocktail samples without the hormone. Determination of kinematic parameters, together with principal component and cluster analyses, allowed us to define four sperm subpopulations (SP). After 3h of incubation with cAMP-elevating agents, the percentages of spermatozoa belonging to SP1 (high straightness) and SP4 (less-vigorous spermatozoa with non-linear motility) increased while SP2 and SP3 (rapid spermatozoa starting hyperactivation or already hyperactivated) decreased compared with the control sample. The presence of melatonin at 100 pM and 10nM restored these subpopulations to values closer to those found in the control sample. These results indicate that melatonin at micromolar concentrations modulates ram sperm capacitation induced by cAMP-elevating agents, reducing ROS and cAMP levels, whereas at lower concentrations melatonin modifies motile sperm subpopulations. These findings warrant further studies on the potential use of melatonin for controlling capacitation in artificial insemination procedures.